PRICE OF LOVE RUNS HIGH FOR ST VALENTINE

 
Elizabeth Fournier
WITH heart-strewn cards and lavish bouquets lining the shelves of the City’s shops, it seems even the most business-focused of postcodes can’t escape the romantic distractions of St Valentine’s Day.

So it’s lucky that bonus season is in full flow, as the VAT hike and inflation combine to push the expected Valentine spend up from £550 to £595 this year.

But it appears that rising prices can’t dissuade romantic Brits from splashing out, with long-haul destinations New York and Las Vegas reappearing on the top five Valentine’s 2011 destinations, according to travel website Expedia.

For those more focused on purse string than heart strings though, the ever-prudent Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, which has been busy adding up the cost or the romantic day, has a few suggestions for how to cut the cost of romance.

Unfortunately The Capitalist can’t imagine many bankers’ wives will be overly impressed with a frozen ready meal and second-hand jewellery – both of which are included in a list of VAT-free tips from the industry body.

OWN GOAL
A record afternoon of scoring in the English premier league usually comes with few repercussions beyond some particularly painful heads come Sunday morning.

But for Sporting Index this Saturday’s tally of 41 goals in eight games meant a rather higher price as it notched up a £500m payout. The problem wasn’t so much the volume of goals but the early scoring by top teams – both Arsenal and Manchester City had goal-heavy first halves that left Sporting Index turning out its pockets after 45 minutes.

“We knew the writing was on the wall at half-time,” said a spokesman for the firm. If only Arsene Wenger had such foresight…

LIFE BEGINS AT 50
There were doubtless a few tired souls in the City yesterday in the aftermath of the 50th birthday celebrations of Bob Wigley (right), the former Merrill Lynch banker who chairs Yell, among other posts.

Wigley took over the luxury Limewood Hotel in Hampshire, owned by Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe (a client of his from his Merrill days), and entertained guests including Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman, “dragon” Peter Jones and Greg Barker, the minister from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The Capitalist is reliably informed that all ages were catered for at the weekend-long festivities, with singer James Morrison of ‘You Give Me Something’ fame (pictured above) performing on Saturday night, and the English Chamber Orchestra providing musical accompaniment. The orchestra even played a Wigley-composed tune, which The Capitalist can’t help hoping might pop up on iTunes.

A SHOT AT ROMANCE
For singles in the City, how better to spend the money you’ve saved on chocolates and flowers over the year than by investing it in the search for everlasting love? On Saturday, lonely hearts can enjoy an open bar and a chance of romance at London’s first pre-matched singles ball at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham. To avoid the usual awkward moments, organisers Antipodate are putting attendees in touch with a compatible ‘date’ before the evening. At least that way potential Casanovas are saved the trouble of coming up with that perfect chat-up line.